Vatican City, 12 June 2013 (VIS) – At the end of his catechesis, the Holy Father launched an appeal for the protection of children, noting that today marks the World Day Against Child Labour, which is focusing particular attention on the exploitation of children in domestic work, a deplorable situation that is constantly increasing, especially in many of the poorest countries. The Pope called upon the international community to take more effective measures against “this real plague”.
“There are millions of children,” Francis said, “mostly girls, who are victims of this hidden form of exploitation that often involves abuse, mistreatment, and discrimination. It is real slavery. … All children should be able to play, study, pray, and grow, in their own families and in an atmosphere of harmony, love, and serenity. It is their right and our duty. A serene childhood allows children to look with confidence towards life and the future. Woe to whomever stifles within them their joyful enthusiasm of hope!”
In his final greetings, the Holy Father addressed members of the International Committee of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul who were present in the Square. They are celebrating the 200th anniversary of the birth of their founder, Blessed Frederic Ozanam. “God is stronger than evil,” Francis told them. “In a world that is difficult at times, be bearers of God's hope and love.”